TESTAMENT's ALEX SKOLNICK Defends LED ZEPPELIN In Copyright Dispute Over 'Stairway To Heaven', Says Lawsuit Was 'F**king Ridiculous'
September 1, 2021
Osiris Media has released the latest episode of Alex Skolnick's "Moods & Modes" podcast in which the TESTAMENT guitarist examines songs that exhibit nearly identical musical qualities. He dives deep on classic songs, comparing "Waiting On The World To Change" to "People Get Ready", "Comfortably Numb" to "Here Comes The Flood", "Always Somewhere" to "Simple Man" and many others, explaining the elements in the songwriting that were "borrowed" from other songs. A few examples will definitely surprise you.
Throughout the episode, Alex provides musical analysis to compare and contrast the songs, and discusses several of the most controversial musical legal battles over "who wrote it first," such as LED ZEPPELIN's "Stairway To Heaven" versus SPIRIT's "Taurus" and George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" duking it out against THE CHIFFONS' "He's So Fine".
Speaking about the court case surrounding the introduction to "Stairway To Heaven", Skolnick argued that the two songs share a common chord progression and bass line that has been used in music for centuries.
"A lawsuit over the instrumental part of a song is, for the most part, pretty fucking ridiculous — excuse my language," Alex said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "It would open the doors to a veritable ocean of litigation. And it's hard not to think that the LED ZEPPELIN lawsuit was the result of overly aggressive attorneys seeking notoriety, riches or both. After all, the songwriter represented in the lawsuit, Randy Wolfe, better known as Randy California, is no longer with us. And after a jury ruled in LED ZEPELLIN's favor in 2016, these guys wouldn't stop. They appealed the case, [and] the verdict was tossed out. Then it went to a higher court, who upheld the original verdict. These guys still wouldn't stop. They took it all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Thankfully, the court — from [judge] Sonia Sotomayor on the left to Clarence Thomas on the right to everyone in between — all agreed: 'We decline to hear the case. The verdict stands. Case closed.'"
Michael Skidmore, the trustee of "Taurus" songwriter Wolfe's estate, had brought the claims more than four decades after "Stairway To Heaven" appeared on LED ZEPPELIN's untitled album, better known as "Led Zeppelin IV".
Five years ago, LED ZEPPELIN singer Robert Plant testified in court that he had no recollection of ever hearing "Taurus" before. "I didn't remember it then, and I don't remember it now," he said. LED ZEPPELIN guitarist Jimmy Page also testified that he had not copied any part of "Taurus" even though he owned five discs by SPIRIT among his collection of 4,000 vinyl records.